Richard Misrach at Pace Gallery, NYC

Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach

On the Beach, 2.0

Pace Gallery: 510 West 25th Street, New York

May 4 – June 29, 2013

Ten years from the inception of his On the Beach series, first exhibited at Pace in 2004, Misrach is revisiting the same site to create a dynamic dialogue with the earlier work. Shooting from a hotel balcony in Hawaii, Misrach documents the sea’s changes in color and energy, as well as the humans who enter the ocean’s immensity to float, swim, surf, perform, and sometimes curl up at its edge. While Misrach spent most of his career working with a slow and cumbersome 8×10 inch view-camera, his shift to digital equipment now affords him the speed necessary to capture a swimmer in mid-stroke or to arrest the ebb and flow of a waning tide. With this new technology, Misrach is able to work faster, shoot in adverse conditions and make photographs in lower light with higher definition. The large-scale, sharply detailed image of a woman performing a headstand on a moving surfboard, for example, could not have been done with this kind of fidelity before.

The title of the series, On the Beach 2.0, alludes to the fact that these photographs are grounded in their technological moment in time, as do the individual titles, which refer to the date and exact minute of each shot. Conversely, parts of this body of work are the closest Misrach has come to portraiture in several decades. Although faces are often obscured by a towel or magazine, many of the images can be considered gestural portraits. As digital technology allows for intimate views of beach goers taken from afar, a certain tension remains at play throughout the series between simple observation and surveillance.

Over the past forty years Misrach has grappled with the same concerns: our environment and our place within it. Desert Cantos, his epic project on the American West, is perhaps his best-known work. The depredations of the oil industry can be found in his recently published Petrochemical America, while the remnants of nature’s fury are showcased in Misrach’s Katrina photographs, Destroy This Memory. On the Beach 2.0 celebrates a different perspective, one in which man exists in harmony with the elements.

**All images and text are from


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